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PHE expert blames ‘lack of appointments’ for low measles vaccination uptake

by Anviksha Patel
29 April 2019

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A lack of appointment availability is the reason behind the huge number of missed measles vaccinations, a Public Health England expert has claimed.
The news comes as a recent report published by UNICEF estimated 527,000 children in the UK missed out on their first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.
PHE consultant epidemiologist Jamie Lopez Bernal has said that the cause is unlikely to be from concerns about vaccinations, but rather the access to getting vaccinated against measles.
The UNICEF report stated the causes of the figures was from lack of access, poor health systems, complacency, and in some cases fear or scepticism about vaccines.
But Mr Lopez Bernal told the Pharmaceutical Journal that ‘timing and availability’ are likely to be factors causing the high number of missed vaccinations.
He said: ‘While vaccine hesitancy may be a factor for a small minority of parents, we know from our parental attitudinal surveys that confidence in the immunisation programme is high — the proportion of parents with concerns that would make them consider not having their child immunised has been at an all-time low for the past three years.
‘Timing, availability and location of appointments have been identified as barriers to vaccination by parents and healthcare professions.’
However, there has been research analysing online articles and conducting public surveys showing that fear of potential side effects is the main reason people choose not to get vaccinated.
In response to the UNICEF report, the BMA released a statement saying the figures were ‘incredibly concerning’.
BMA science board chair Professor Dame Parveen Kumar said that there must be ‘easy access to facilities’ for the population to receive vaccinations.
Meanwhile, under the new GP contract, GPs will get an extra £5 for every child aged 10-11 they vaccinate with the MMR vaccine.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.